Don Frye Reflects on Long Career


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Don Frye debuted in the UFC in February 1996.

Sixteen years later, the two-time UFC tournament champion joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show” to discuss his time in the sport, his views on today’s stars and more.

Frye on whether he watches MMA: “I can’t afford to [laughs]. If it’s on free TV, I can watch it. They’re great athletes. It’s amazing how the sport has transformed. I’ve said a hundred times, it’s like NASCAR. I’m one of the old-time moonshiners and now you’ve got the 500-horsepower cars. These days they’re so technically fantastic. They’re great athletes. I get a kick out of watching them fight.”

On putting on a show every time out: “A couple of times I didn’t pull it off. I screwed up, but I’m not like Brock Lesnar where there’s a trail of piss from the locker room to the cage. I come to fight. I’m not walking in there looking for a soft spot to land.”

On whether there’s anything that could motivate him to fight again: “Yeah, it’s called an empty wallet.”

On the changes he’d have to make to fight again: “I’d have to be serious. The last time out, I didn’t show the sport any respect or my opponent any respect, and he kicked my ass. I deserved it. Ruben Villareal, he stomped the s--t out of me and I deserved it because I thought I’d go in there just as Don Frye and my press clippings would impress him. Apparently he never learned to read on the reservation. He wasn’t impressed with my print.”

On whether he still trains: “No, I haven’t done anything since Ruben whooped my ass except ride horses. I had a real bad last eight years. I guess I screwed up my back in ’03 and didn’t know it, and it got worse. I just thought I was getting old. It gradually got worse. Last year from -- what year is this? 2012? Yeah, May 2010 to May 2011, I had five back surgeries and they finally fused it. With my ego, I thought, ‘S--t, it’s been six and a half months. I can fight.’ But I didn’t train. I worked out, but I didn’t train. There’s quite a difference, quite a difference. We had the weigh-ins. Ruben took off his shirt and looked like Tarzan. I tell you what, if I had a car, I’d have jumped in it and left right then and there.”

On whether he misses fighting: “I do. I really do. I had a lot of fun. The fans are fantastic. Fantastic fans. But the thing is, Dana White’s just ruined the sport. I got to thinking about it today and you know, he ruined it for me. I thought, ‘Why am I letting that asshole dictate my life and take all of the fun out of it for me?’ I just ignore him and go on with my life. I might climb back in the cage just because I finally say, ‘F--k it. Why let him ruin it?’ I just ignore him and go on with my own business.”

On whether fighters are underpaid: “Oh my God, it’s a crime. It’s a crime. You see some of these guys only getting two or three or six thousand dollars and you’ve got Dana bragging about having 30 Ferraris. Come on. You have a sponsor and he charges a sponsor what, a hundred and fifty grand to have your stuff on the fighter? That’s money he’s stealing from the fighter. Then he goes and he pays them two or three thousand dollars. That’s crazy.”

On the death of Pride: “I was real sad. It bummed me out. They came over and interviewed me four days before the final event and talked me into going over there and fighting. I went over there and fought and got the crap kicked out of me by James Thompson and then had a pay issue. You know, in one way I was sad to see them go, but after that, they could kiss my ass.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:22:20).

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